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Alexander Residence: Goodbye Mum

Monday, 31 January 2011

Goodbye Mum

Banksy - Always Hope

After I posted that my mum was going into a hospice I recieved so many words of support, here and in my offline life, all of them perfect in their own way, despite people's pleas that they didn't know what to say. Thank you.

My amazing mum died in the hospice on Thursday 27th January 2011.  She was peaceful and we were with her.  The hospice was amazing, mum's care was fantastic, but they also care for relatives too.  It doesn't make it less sad, but it makes it calmer.

I could write a million blog posts on the experiences of the last few weeks, one will never do it justice.

My mum was amazing and inspirational. She was so thoughtful, so interested in everyone she met. She was so positive despite cancer. She taught me a million and one things which I've been scribbling down furiously.

My friend sent me this Banksy as a card, its the image my parents also sent me for my birthday card last year (cool parents huh?)  It reminded me my mum used to read to me from a book about a French boy with a magic red ballon. It's a book based on a film from her child hood.  I read it to her last week.  At the end the little boy floats off in a bunch of ballons.

I wish I could give the four year old this image of Gran drifting away in a bunch of ballons, but I read up and everything points to honesty.  We read Goodbye Mousie and Always and Forever.  Miss L is stunning us all with her understanding and sensitivity.  I'm not sure about taking her to the funeral (a humanist ceremony) but I know she needs something.  I would love to hear about any experiences with this age group.

One of the things my mum taught me was the importance of rites of passage, that I could create my own ceremonies and rituals if I wanted.  I didn't want to go to my PGCE degree ceremony after feeling like part of a herd of cattle at my first degree ceremony.  Instead we walked on Devil's Dyke and she made me a daisy chain headdress and told me how proud she was.  Little things like that keep popping into my head, reminding me what an absolutely amazing woman she was.



When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping
for that which has been your delight.

Kahil Gibran

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32 Comments:

At 31 January 2011 at 11:03 , Anonymous Ipshita said...

I am so sorry for your loss. May you always celebrate your mothers life and remember her with a smile. Hugs to you at this difficult hour.

Ipshita

 
At 31 January 2011 at 11:05 , Anonymous Mummy Beadzoid said...

I have no advice to give on 4 year olds and funerals, but just wanted to say I'm very sorry for your loss. Very moving post, and lovely picture - I'd never seen that piece of artwork. Best wishes X

 
At 31 January 2011 at 12:02 , Anonymous Metropolitan Mum said...

I am so sorry to read about your loss. Lots of strength for you and your family. xx

 
At 31 January 2011 at 12:24 , Blogger SuperLittleMen said...

So sorry to hear about losing your mum, our thoughts are with you all x

 
At 31 January 2011 at 12:44 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Turn you face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.'
I'm very sorry to hear of your sad sad news.
I too lost my mum to cancer, and we're just coming up to the 2nd anniversary, although I try to block the date out in my head, 'cause every day it hurts a little.
As regards decisions you have to make, follow your heart. JA xxx

 
At 31 January 2011 at 12:54 , Blogger TheMadHouse said...

I am so so sorry that you too now understand the pain. I will be on twitter if you ever want to chat about it. xx Jen

 
At 31 January 2011 at 13:44 , Blogger Kerry said...

Am so very sorry for your loss Penny.

Beautifully written post. My personal feeling would be not to take young ones to the ceremony itself(unless you felt the need to have someone else to focus on). Maybe someone could bring them along afterwards if you were having some form of a gathering, as I'm sure it would be comforting for everyone to see the new generation, who wouldn't be here if it weren't for your lovely mum. I hope the funeral will bring some comfort and celebration of your mum's life, and I'm sure you will find your own way to celebrate her with your children. Much love and may you pass the daisychain headress on to your daughter xxx

 
At 31 January 2011 at 15:42 , OpenID imperfectpages said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your Mum's death. I have no advice about how to handle it with children, sorry, but I'm sure you will get lots of good advice from people who have experience.

Your Mum sounds like an amazing, inspirational woman. When I saw it was a Humanist ceremony I thought "I like the sound of this woman" but what she did with your graduation sounds wonderful. It takes someone very wise and special to understand that everybody makes their own way in the world and has their own experience, without worrying about what other people might think and conforming to anyone's expectations.

Best wishes to you all. x

 
At 31 January 2011 at 16:56 , Anonymous LegoBoyMum said...

My Gran died when I was five years old. I have such wonderful memories of those few years that we had with her - she was always taking me and my sister on picnics or adventures. I remember when my Mum told me that she was going to die. I had been to visit her in hospital but I didn't understand until Mum explained. We were sitting on the stairs at home when Mum told me and I remember sobbing my heart out. But I don't remember when she finally passed away.. I think I had said my goodbyes and as only children can I had accepted that I wouldn't see her again. We didn't go to the funeral and I don't regret not being there. I hope this helps.
Sarah x

 
At 31 January 2011 at 18:34 , Blogger Emma said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My hugs and thoughts are with you Xx

 
At 31 January 2011 at 20:23 , OpenID mummyandmonkey said...

It's really hard, my thoughts are with you. My dad died nine years ago now, and I still have incredibly raw moments of grief. I'm glad you have good memories of her, it is the best comfort now.

 
At 1 February 2011 at 09:05 , Anonymous helloitsgemma said...

Beautiful post, carry on making her proud. If it's any help, I took my son to my Uncles funeral when he was 18 months old, because my Uncle loved him, and I didn't see why he shouldn't be part of it. He was far too young to understand but was an lovely antidote to the sadness. Saying goodbye is about celebrating, love, life and family; personally, I think it's important that everyone shares in that no matter how old or how young.

 
At 1 February 2011 at 09:35 , Blogger Becky said...

So sorry to hear this news. I can't imagine how you must be feeling. All my thoughts are with you. Lovely poem. X

 
At 1 February 2011 at 11:17 , Blogger Kate said...

Oh Penny you've made me cry again! That's a beautiful post and it's wonderful that so many special memories are surfacing for you. 'Memories are the ability to gather roses in the snow' - hold them close in the tough times.
I didn't bring my kids to Dad's funeral as I wanted to focus on the saying goodbye - it was the right decision for me but you do have to decide yourself. You'll know. Kids have an amazing ability to deal with death - they are learning about life and that this is a part of it - though watch out for the strange questions when you're least expecting it - they don't know much about tact...
Thinking of you every day. Am here when you need me. x

 
At 2 February 2011 at 09:55 , Blogger Super Amazing Mum (Super AM) said...

Oh Penny, I am so sorry for your loss. keep on making your mum proud, I love that she made you a daiy chain head dress. A friend of mine started a diary when she was losing her dad, about all the funny/inspirational/wonderful things he did and said. Can you do the same?

I agree with Gemma regarding the funeral, another 4 (nearly 5) year old I know wrote with help a letter to their Grandma. It went into the coffin and was so sweet, said "keep on rocking Grandma, you are the bestest ever and I will always love you lots and lots and lots" She also drew lots of pictures as well.

Masssive hugs, that is a beautiful post. xx

 
At 2 February 2011 at 12:43 , Blogger Ms Brightside said...

Oh Penny, I am so sorry.
I hope you're coping ok.
All I can say for your 4 year old, is neither you or she will ever regret the truth. Let her choose, I'll bet she'll want to do what makes you happy, so guide her in the direction you feel is right.
Momma knows best.

 
At 2 February 2011 at 18:15 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Thank you all so much for these words of encouragement and wisdom. I am back and forth like a yo yo and not getting much time to keep on top of replies but I will, just as soon as things calm down. And I am so greateful for the support Penny xx

 
At 2 February 2011 at 18:39 , Anonymous Kath Parklover said...

I'm so sorry to hear your sad news Penny. Trust your instincts as to what's right regarding your daughter and the funeral. Lots of love and hugs to you and yours x

 
At 2 February 2011 at 20:05 , Anonymous Lucy Quick said...

Penny, I'm so sorry to hear about your Mum, I hope you're doing ok.

Thinking of you and your family, much love Lucy xxx

 
At 2 February 2011 at 21:06 , Blogger Mummy Mishaps aka Jenny Paulin said...

So sorry ro learn of your sad news. Sending you hugs xx

 
At 2 February 2011 at 21:11 , OpenID waterbirthplease said...

My heart just sank when I saw this blog title. Funny but I've been thinking of you recently. I'm glad you were with her. So many things rang true in that blog and brought a lot of emotion back. I sang my mum lullabies. She was taken too soon, but you will eventually be glad you could say your goodbyes, and it will get better with time. There's a beautiful childrens book called "Badgers Parting Gift" that may help. It's especially to help little ones understand death. Your Mum sounds amazing. Love and strength to you xxx

 
At 2 February 2011 at 21:16 , Blogger thingsandstuff said...

What a brave and wonderful post about something so hard to write about. You're an amazing writer who quite obviously had an amazing mother. I send you all my best wishes and big hugs xx

 
At 3 February 2011 at 13:39 , Anonymous Michelloui | The American Resident said...

I remember that film as well from my childhood. What a special connection--the film, the book, the card. I am so sorry to read this post and read about your loss. I wish you strength and courage. And keep writing about it. This is beautiful. x

 
At 4 February 2011 at 10:14 , Blogger Mom on a Wire said...

So sorry! Beautiful post. Sending you a big hug!

 
At 4 February 2011 at 16:24 , Blogger Ooh Baby - All things Cuteable said...

Hi, I'm so sorry to hear about your mum. My mum died when I was 25, and I miss her so much. Your mum sounds like a wonderful, inspirational person, and I really like the reading you put at the bottom, so very true. Your mum will live on in your hearts with lots of wonderful memories. We use this book at my work in a Children's Hospice to explain to siblings about death - it's a really gentle way of explaining, I hope it helps you:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Waterbugs-Dragonflies-Explaining-Death-Children/dp/0826464580

Big hug - Lynne x

 
At 4 February 2011 at 16:49 , Blogger Ooh Baby - All things Cuteable said...

Aw, you are so welcome. It's nice to help, even if its just a little bit x

 
At 4 February 2011 at 20:32 , Blogger Marzena said...

I am so sorry for your loss

 
At 6 February 2011 at 20:25 , OpenID rosiescribble said...

So dreadfully sorry about your loss. That's a really beautiful post and a very fitting image. x

 
At 10 February 2011 at 23:48 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Thank you for all the support and advice. Am slowly getting back into blogging and popping by to say thanks. It makes such a difference blogging and being part of such a supportive community xxx
Waterbirthplease- saw the badger book in the hospice, it looked very special, will buy it.
Lynne thanks have ordered it.
Michelloui- my dad just bought the film on DVD, glad someone else knows it!

 
At 13 February 2011 at 21:13 , Blogger carole said...

I have just read your post and have tears running down my cheeks, I so understand how you are feeling right now as I to have lost my own lovely Mum. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming sense of loss and emptiness you feel inside.

Please accept my sincere condolences. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to grieve, don't feel guilty it is a long slow process, but I am sure with the love and support from your friends and lovely family it will be a little easier.

Carole x

 
At 20 February 2011 at 23:18 , Anonymous ella said...

I'm so terribly sorry to read this. Your post was beautiful and heartbreaking xx

 
At 20 March 2011 at 09:20 , Blogger Mrs Worthington said...

just pooped by via silent sunday and this post caught my eye. Moving picture, moving tale. Your mother in fact died on my birthday. My mother died when I was 20 from an aggressive form of cancer and reading your post brings happy but distant memories. Keep writing about them before you forget.

 

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